Special Memorial Day Programming

This coming holiday weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer.  Pools open, the backyard patio furniture is uncovered and ready and the smell of grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue ribs is in the air.  This weekend also asks us to pause as a country to recognize and celebrate the many men and women who have proudly served America in the armed forces.  One of my favorite parts of the annual MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT on WOSU TV is the armed forces medley, which is previewed in my post about this year’s concert.   If you’re an annual viewer of the MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT you’ll know what I mean when I say, let’s hope for good weather this year!

On the WOSU TV SUNDAY SHOWCASE this week we will present a series of programs commemorating Memorial Day.  We start at 3pm with MAGGIE’S WAR: A TRUE STORY OF COURAGE, LEADERSHIP AND VALOR IN WORLD WAR II.  James Megellas, affectionately known as “Maggie,” led H-Company of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment through some of the most horrific battles and deadliest missions of World War II, including the Battle of Anzio, and the Battle of the Bulge. MAGGIE’S WAR chronicles the evolution of Megellas  from a young man into the most highly decorated officer in the history of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. We’re privileged to watch as cameras follow Megellas, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel, on an emotional return to Europe with a small group of family, friends and 82nd Airborne veterans.

We’ll wrap up the SHOWCASE programming at 7pm with THE GHOST ARMY.  One of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard about the war, this program tells the true story of American G.I.s  who tricked the enemy with rubber tanks, sound effects and visual illusions during  World War II. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops staged a traveling road show of deception designed to con the Germans right on the front lines. From Normandy to the Rhine, they conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy about the strength and location of American units. Every move they made was top-secret and their story was hushed up for decades after the war’s end. Many of the men chosen to carry out these deceptions were young artists recruited from art schools across the country, many of whom would go on to have illustrious careers in art, design and fashion.  This documentary features interviews with 19 Ghost Army veterans, as well as retired general Wesley Clark and other military historians.  I found some of the footage of these troops staging their props funny, it amazed me that they pulled this off.

Finally we’ll conclude our Memorial Day programming on Monday night, May 27 at 10pm with the new documentary COMPANY OF HEROES. Easy Company, the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, widely known as the “Screaming Eagles,” remains one of the most revered combat units in U.S. military history. The Army company’s legendary exploits in World War II inspired Stephen Ambrose’s book,”Band of Brothers”. The soldiers of Easy Company parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and later into Holland for Operation Market Garden. They fought their way through Belgium, France and Germany, survived overwhelming odds, liberated concentration camps, and drank a victory toast in April 1945 at Hitler’s hideout in the Alps. In A COMPANY OF HEROES, 20 of the few remaining survivors from Easy Company, along with the families of three deceased others, recount the horrors and the victories, the bonds they made, the blood they shed, and the friends they lost.

Please join us on Sunday, or set your DVR,  as WOSU TV remembers our veterans with special Memorial Day programming.  A complete list of programs featured in the SUNDAY SHOWCASE can be found; http://wosu.org/2012/television/schedule/.